(By Mani) BlackBerry (NASDAQ: RIMM) (TSE:RIM), formerly Research In Motion, confirmed how much faith it has in its new operating system BlackBerry 10 by even changing the name it used for 27 years in favor of its much-better-known brand name.
Finally, the BB10 saw the light of the day with first BlackBerry 10 smart phones, the Z10 and Q10, which come outfitted with 4G connectivity, Bluetooth Smart, and NFC connectivity. The inclusion of Bluetooth Smart and NFC follows the trend that have seen from other smart phone providers such as Samsung, and HTC that have also utilized these technologies in their recent handsets.
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The utilization of Bluetooth Smart in the BlackBerry 10 platform will open it up developers who will be able to take advantage of a growing market of connectable devices such as health and wellness monitors, sports and fitness monitoring equipment, in addition to a range of other devices, such as home automation equipment that also utilizes Bluetooth Smart.
According to an IHS study, more than 69 million Bluetooth low energy health and sports monitors will ship between 2012 and 2017.
"By incorporating Bluetooth Smart into the BlackBerry 10 platform, BlackBerry will be able to provide a platform that is renowned for its enterprise use, in addition to meeting casual users needs who might want to use their device to monitor their health or sports performance, or in some instances, turn a light off inside their house using their phone," said Phillip Maddocks, market analyst at IHS.
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Several sports and fitness vendors such as Nike, Polar, Garmin and Wahoo Fitness have already either released or announced products that utilize Bluetooth Smart.
BlackBerry has followed a trend set by other smart phone manufacturers on the hardware side by providing up-to-date connectivity, providing 4G support, and support for future mobile payment platforms. Near Field Communication was previously included within the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 and enabled users to make payments using their smart phone.
Other platforms such as Android have also been offering the same functionality, utilizing Google Wallet on NFC enabled phones.
According to IHS, more than 75 million NFC enabled cellular handsets were shipped in 2012, and with today's announcement, and the expectation that other major phone manufacturers incorporate the technology, this will continue to grow.
The incorporation of NFC in smart phones has been increasing, with functionality such as mobile payment being the main use case for the technology in the BlackBerry 9900 which also featured the technology.
The NFC technology can also be used for simply the pairing process with other devices that utilize both NFC and a technology such as Bluetooth Smart, which is also another area which will be an added benefit for accessories that provide this functionality.
BlackBerry's announcement today brings their handsets in line with where the industry is heading, despite being delayed, and later to the market than expected. The incorporation of Bluetooth Smart and NFC highlight that BlackBerry is not only looking after the enterprise market, but are also addresses the consumer space where its main competitors such as Samsung and Apple are already addressing the possibilities that these technologies can bring to their respective platforms.
Numerous carriers may promote the device, ensuring some initial unit success, and are expected to sell at an attractive subsidized price of $149. Pre-orders appear concentrated in Canada and the UK.
About 10–20 million of RIM's 79 million installed base may upgrade to BB10 over time, although migration to low-cost Android is likely to continue. BB10, which does not entail mandatory service fees, will increase RIM's mix of hardware revenue over time. Sustainable hardware margins have been elusive for many vendors.
Meanwhile, RIM will have 70k apps at launch, including many popular ones, a far cry from Apple, Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google, Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android. About 1,600 North America enterprises are testing BB10.
Key differentiators include BBM video calling, enhanced voice recognition, BlackBerry Hub, and work/personal separation. Reviews of the browser remain favorable, but the timing of the launch seems auspicious as Samsung will refresh its Galaxy series in April and Apple's new device won't arrive until June.
However, the true measure of success will be not just units, but also sustainable profitability, and competition is cut-throat with Windows convinced they will be the third mobile OS vendor.